We started off feeling like we were stranded in the airport at Gatwick. Once we got through customs and into the terminal building there was no NCL person to be found. We wanted to take the NCL bus to the port, I had contacted NCL prior to our departure and was assured that our name would be put on the "list" to reserve space on the bus for us. I went to the airport information desk and had the NCL representative paged, and got no response. Since there was no answer to our page I went and enquired about taking either a bus or train to Dover, none would have made it to the port on time. I was almost ready to take a taxi to the port when I decided to have the rep paged again. This time the page went out to "the Norwegian Cruise Line representative" and a rep showed up in about 5 minutes. She was about 5'3" and holding her NCL sign at chest level! She explained that she was looking for another couple, I suggested that my husband hold the sign up in the air for all to see but the offer was declined so we stood there while she ran around looking for the missing people. We stood waiting for over 1 hour, she finally found the missing couple in another terminal. Our coach left around 12:30 and so by the time we arrived at the ship there were no lines to check in and we were at our cabin in no time. Our cabin was on deck 4, forward. It had a porthole. It is hard to describe here but the porthole was recessed and the water got into the porthole and spun around in it like a front loading washing machine. The noise was terrible. After 2 sleepless nights in the cabin we were moved to a cabin on deck 8, thanks to the efforts of John O'Hara the hotel director. There were many people on this cruise who seemed to have no regard for other passengers. I have read here that the Garden Cafe (buffet) staff didn't bus the tables fast enough and at times this was true, the staff was busy talking to each other and weren't moving very fast. This is true of a lot of companies...if the boss isn't around then slack off a little. My complaint would be not of NCL but of the people who seemed to think it was perfectly okay to sit at a table during peak times (while others were carrying around plates of food looking for a place to sit) and bring out needlepoint, dominoes, books or cards. The food was okay but we knew that we were not going to get gourmet meals...we went for the itinerary which is what attracts us to NCL in the first place. We ate in Mama's Italian restaurant on one night, the rest of the time we ate in Tsars Palace for dinner. We usually had breakfast and lunch at the buffet. We are not picky and always found something to our liking. Cookies and ice cream seemed to be a big hit with all of the passengers. We went to most of the shows and enjoyed them. We bought a spa pass for the 2 of us, $169 for the cruise. Single passes were available for $20 per day or $50 on port days and the port day pass was only good from 8 - 2 pm. We enjoyed the heated loungers and the large spa tub although it did need a good scrubbing by the end of the cruise. Watching the sunset from the front windows of the spa was really a treat.
Lerwick, Shetland Island was our first port. The pier was right in the town and since we were exhausted from our first night in the "washing machine room" we did not have any tours booked. We walked along the streets and window shopped, we also took a lot of pictures of the quaint little houses about the town. Our second port was Rekjavik, Iceland. We booked a ship tour to the Blue Lagoon Spa.We had a very informative guide who told us the history of Iceland and explained much of what we were seeing on the way to the Blue Lagoon. I think it took about 45 minutes to get there. When we arrived at the Blue Lagoon we were given plastic wrist bands similar to thick wrist watch straps. This wrist band got you through the turnstiles and also doubled as the key to your locker. We were told that it was necessary to take a "naked" shower prior to entering the lagoon but there was no attendant to enforce this. Everyone that I saw obeyed the signs and took a "naked" shower. The lagoon itself was very nice, the water was an odd milky blue colour and in some areas of the lagoon the water was a little hotter than others. In a couple of places on the perimeter of the lagoon there were crates that had long ladles for scooping up silica mud to put on your face. There was also an area that had a waterfall as well as an area that had a steam bath and another with a sauna. We were in the water about 1.5 hours and really enjoyed our stay. On the way out there is a gift shop that sells all kind of products made from the minerals and mud from the lagoon.
The first cabin we had was terrible, the second cabin #8612 was in a great location and very quiet...beds were comfortable and there was ample storage space and drawers in the cabin. The room attendants were efficient but nothing out of the ordinary. If you prefer bar soap over gel I suggest you take along your own. At one time NCL provided conditioner, they don't now so you may consider taking this with you as well.
Since we could not get into St. John's arrangements were made to go into Halifax at noon on Sunday instead of arriving on Monday morning. We docked at Pier 21 which is where many immigrants were processed and welcomed for the first time into Canada. Pier 21 is in an ideal location, it is at the end of a very nice boardwalk that is very well maintained by the City of Halifax. We arrived to gray and chilly weather but we walked along the boardwalk and peeked in on the vendors that were open along the walk. The is a casino at the end of the boardwalk that we went into and made a deposit. Then we headed up a few blocks towards the Halifax Citadel and window shopped our way to an Internet cafe where we used the computers and had a coffee. It is called the Paper Chase and is on Blowers. Ask at the visitor centers located on the boardwalk for a map to get to the Internet cafe should you wish to use a computer and not pay the rates on the ship. We rented a car on Monday and drove out to Peggy's Cove in the pouring rain. It is still a very pretty drive to the cove and I felt a little sorry for those that were visiting for the first time and did not get to experience the beauty of the coast in the sunshine. I worked in Halifax for a little and so know my way around and the beauty of a coastal drive.
We arrived in New York on Wednesday morning. I set the alarm for 5:45 as we were supposed to sail by the Statue of Liberty at 6:15 am and, having never been to NYC I did not want to miss it. It was still dark as we sailed by the statue so I was a little disappointed that I couldn't really get a good look at her. I did take some awesome photos of the sun rising on NYC. We were unable to spend any time in New York City because due to time constraints. We took a Super Shuttle to Newark airport and were home the same afternoon.